Archive for February, 2018

What is your purpose? (John 18)

February 28, 2018

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. John 18:37

I can still remember my Junior year of high school.  It was the moment when the pressure of what will you do with your life kicked in.  I had to take the ACT test. I needed to decide what was next for me.  There were many options.  The Army said, “be all you can be in the army.”  The Vocational program said, “You would be great in a trade.”   College cried out, “We can prepare you for anything in life.”  Then there was my old nature which pulled at me every day with the same theme, “Do what you want to do.”

Thankfully, there was one more voice speaking to me.  The voice was God’s voice that kept saying, “I have a purpose for your life.”

In John 18 we read of no less than 5 individuals who found themselves in a place where they had to make decisions that all tied to purpose:

  • Judas made a decision to betray Jesus fulfilling the purpose of being God’s betrayer.
  • Peter made a decision to both cut off the servants ear and to deny the Lord three times in the same night.
  • Both the sitting High Priest and the real High Priest made a decision to both trump up charges against Jesus that would lead to His death.
  • Pilate made a decision to give into the will of the corrupt crowd.

Each of these people made decisions that affected their lives.   Only Peter recovered from his wrong decision.  The reason he was able to recover was because he realized his purpose.

Question: Are you struggling with your purpose or maybe you are trying to guide someone who is struggling with purpose?

If your answer is “Yes,” I would encourage you to look at the example of Jesus.

Jesus clearly understood the very purpose for which He came to the earth.  He was disciplined to stay focused on the purpose.  He was mindful of the weight of all He was purposed to do.  He fulfilled His purpose knowing that He was birthing and building a kingdom.

Each person must decide, what is my purpose.  In the decision process, we must understand there are only two purposes in life:

  • God’s purposes.
  • Our own self purposes fulled by hell.

I pray that you take the time to understand the implications of both.

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What if it were today? (Luke 12)

February 27, 2018

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.  Luke 12:57-58

As a kid I used to try to get my mother to fill out the card for the Publisher’s Clearing House contest.  If you are old enough to remember the early days, it was Ed McMahon who would come to your door to announce you had won the contest.  I could just envision him coming to our door with the million dollar prize.  Here was my mother’s view, “They would never come to Eastern Kentucky.  They probably could not even find us.”

Brothers and sisters, “When the Lord returns, do you believe He will be able to find you?”

In Luke 12 Jesus is teaching massive crowds of people.  The chapter begins with Jesus strong challenge to understand that someday every deed, word, and thought will be judged by the God who has written down our deeds, words, and thoughts in His ledger in heaven.

Over and over again in the chapter we are reminded, “some day we will stand before God.”  In verses thirty-five through verses forty-eight we are reminded that his coming could be any day.

Now here is where it really becomes personal.  Examine closely verse forty-eight:

48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

In my life I have been given much and I believe most who read this blog will agree for your own life.  The question that comes to my mind is this: “What does the ledger of my life indicate that I have done with what I have been given?”

It is true, there will someday be a knock at the door of your life.  The Lord will be on the other-side coming for reward and judgment.  The question is, if it were today, would we ready to meet Him.

Personally, I want to end each day with a clean ledger with God. I can honestly say, “I spend a long time seeking God’s insight to anything that may still be on my ledger. ”  Dear Father, help each who read this to have a clean ledger before they begin their day or finish their day.

Who did you tell? (Psalm 145)

February 26, 2018

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

The news was to be a secret. No one except the people involved were to know what was about to be revealed to the public.  However, the news leaked and the important moment of revealing was diminished because someone told before hand.

The above illustration is something that all of us have experienced in relationships and in the work place.  Someone said, “Somethings are to be kept silent.”  I would agree wholeheartedly.

However, there are some things that are not to be kept secret.  You ask, “give me an example?”  My answer, The revelation of God!  God intends for His people to declare who He is and what He does to the entire world.  This is the Psalmist direction in Psalm 145.

In this Psalm we are lead on a glorious mission of discovery.  R.C. Sproul comments: “This is a spiritual fireworks display,” Cited from The Reformation Study Bible.”

The author vows to praise the Lord each and every day, Vs: 2.  We read of the impossibility of every running out of things to praise Him for, Vs: 3.  God’s desire is for us to reach the next generation with the truth of who God is.

We ask, how do we accomplish this task?  Vs: 5-7

  • We have to daily meditate and marinate on God’s Word.
  • We have to daily share as a megaphone what we are discovering.

The Psalmist gives us an example of how this is to happen in Vs: 8-21.  I encourage you to take time and read slowly through verses eight through twenty-one.  I have placed the verses in two categories and I have given each verse to one or the other.

  1.  We see the character of God in Vs: 8-9, 13, 17.
  2. We see the mighty deeds of God in Vs: 9-12, 14-16, 18-20.

Now that you have read these verses, spend your day in mediation and marination concerning who He is and what He does.  Also spend your day looking for people to share with what you are discovering and experiencing.

Here is an awesome song to sing as you go along the day:

 

How Great Is Our God
The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

 

A life truly blessed (Psalm 119:1-23)

February 23, 2018

Your testimonies are my delight;
    they are my counselors. Psalm 119:1-23

Two mornings ago the world lost one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.  Dr. Billy Graham, “husband, father, pastor, prophet, evangelist, friend of all, and servant of God” passed into heaven at the age of 99.

So many people have written about his life in tribute in these last two days.  For me, Psalm 119 seems like the best tribute we can pay.  Dr. Graham lived a life (through Christ and because of Christ) that exemplified Psalm 119.

The first stanza covers the first eight verses.  The writer informs us of this fact: “God pours out His spiritual blessings on those who are in covenant with Him.”

Here are those blessings:

  1. We are made blameless through Christ.  Vs: 1
  2. We are blessed to live blameless in the way of Christ. Vs: 2
  3. We are blessed to strive to share out of a life that is overflowing through our constant seeking of God. Vs: 2b
  4. We are blessed with spiritual power to keep His commandments, Vs: 3-4.

These blessings were the goal of the Psalmist life, Vs: 5.  When we live this way, one of the great blessings is a life without shame, Vs: 6.

The Psalmist praised the Lord for such blessings, Vs: 7.  He wanted to continue in walking in a blessed way.

Certainly these things (Blessings) characterized Billy Graham’s life.  He was able to reach millions of lives with a blessed life.

This is so important for you and I to grasp today.  We do not seek to gain God’s blessings so that we can fill our lives with riches.  Our goal is the glory of God.  Psalm 119 teaches us how the written Word helps us to live out a life that magnifies the Living Word of God.

Oh that you and I would live our lives in Christ with a passion for His glory. As we do, whether it be a crowd of millions or a crowd or a crowd of two we will be blessed in doing His work!

Father thank you for giving this world a man who would be made new.  Thank you for Dr. Billy Graham.

How is your fruit? (Luke 8)

February 22, 2018

 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

Imagine what your response would be to a fellow believer who approached you with the following question: How is your fruit?  Would your response be, “It’s February, fruit trees are not even blooming.”  Or maybe your response would be, “I don’t even have any fruit trees.”

In Luke 8 we are visiting Jesus teaching in parables for the Second day in a row.  Yesterday we were in Matthew 13.  Jesus taught us about the two types of people in the world: there are people who are citizens of hell and there are people who are citizens of heaven.

In Luke 8 we recognize the fact of the possibility of 1000’s of people being in the crowd who heard this parable.  Jesus is the Living Word of God speaking the Word of God as God.  He is the one sowing the seed of Himself.

Notice the good soil, He sows Himself into:

  • The person hears the Word-The Word penetrates their heart and mind.
  • The person holds fast to the Word-The Word is now taking root in the person’s life.
  • The person is bearing fruit-The Word is making impact in the daily actions of his or her life.
  • The person is being patient-The Word is working each day for something amazing down the road.

Now, lets revisit our opening question: “How is your fruit?”  I can speak only for my life.  Each day I am in the Word. I am each day attempting to hold onto the Word.  Each day I am asking God to bear fruit.  Each day I am… Oh wait a minute, Jesus said, “with patience.”

That last part revealed a dark spot or two in my fruit.  I must confess, I sometimes struggle with patience.  How about you?  In Hebrews 10:36, the writer uses the word patience with the following meaning, “endurance.”   He writes: “You have need of endurance.”

I have often seen people pick off the fruit from a vine before it was ready to be picked off.  This very day, we must be patient in bearing fruit in whatever circumstance God has placed us in.  We need to learn to trust God in everything He places in our lives.  When we do this we are able to accomplish the following:

  1. Live you faith bearing fruit.
  2. Long for the Lord’s return bearing fruit.
  3. Loving others bearing fruit.

Here is how James speaks about the endurance of faith.  Take time to read over this text and make it a fruit bearing priority today:

Be patient, therefore, brothers,[a] until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:7-11

The Kingdom of Heaven is like… (Matthew 13)

February 21, 2018

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. Matthew 13:47-48

Brothers and sisters, I am always amazed as to how two people can hear the exact same thing at the same time, but when asked what was said, they have two entirely different interpretations.  What is up with this?

Could it be that one person is more intelligent than the other?  Is one a better listener than the other?  Could it be that one is analytical and the other is literal?  Our could it be the difference between male and female?

Some one said: “Our interpretations are based upon our perspective.”

Jesus would “amen” this statement because He was the one who made this clear in Matthew 13.

In Matthew 13 Jesus offers 7 parables (a story placed beside a truth to illustrate or compare the truth).  The truth is, there are two types of people in the world:

  • Those who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Those who are citizens of the kingdom of Hell.

Those who are citizens of hell can hear exactly what the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven hear and get totally a different meaning.  We ask, how can this be?  Let’s consider the first parable in Matthew 13.

The first three soils represent those who are citizens of the kingdom of hell.

  • They hear the gospel and reject it without thinking it has any value (Stone ground).
  • They hear the gospel and respond with a surface belief that has no stomach for sacrifice (Surface belief).
  • They hear the gospel and respond with an accessory belief (they add Jesus to their other things).  But the other things choke out faith.

Such people will end up in the fiery furnace of hell.

But the last soil represents those who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • They are bearing fruit because they have fully embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Such people bear fruit more and more as they grow in their faith.

So, I ask, when you read the Word of God, what do you understand it to say?  Here are three actions you can daily take that will help you to understand correctly what you are hearing:

  1. Sell out to kingdom life, 13:44-46.
  2. Seek to be used by God for exclusive Kingdom work, Vs: 31-32.
  3. Surrender to the Spirit’s filling each day, Vs: 33.

Are you listening (Isaiah 55)

February 20, 2018

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food. Isaiah 55:2

Honestly, I did not know what he said.  I was trying to listen.  I was straining with full attention, but still, to no avail I could not understand what the man was saying.  What was the problem?  This man was speaking a different language.

Question: Do you sometimes find it hard to understand God’s Word?

To be very revealed to you, I find it sometimes hard to understand what I am reading in God’s Word.  To be even more revealed I need you to know there is an often a distinct reason why I sometimes find it hard to understand.

Before I give you the reason, I want you to consider Isaiah 55.  The prophet is writing to a people who are facing captivity.  They are a people who have struggled to listen to God.  Here in chapter 55 the prophet gives them an invitation to receive the salvation of the Lord which cannot be purchased by money.

The writer of Proverbs gives the same invitation in 9:5-6: “come eat my bread (life) and drink of the wine (joy) that I have mixed. leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

God offers salvation to those who will come and receive His free gift (Romans 10:13).

But the people in Isaiah’s day were not listening. They were striving to gain things that could not be their salvation, Vs: 2.  They were buying worthless things and they were laboring for things that had no eternal return.

The prophet cries out, “Listen.” He wanted them to pay attention (Be diligent) and humble themselves (incline their ear).  If they would do these things, God would save them.  Salvation is in Jesus (Vs: 6).

But the question would be, did they listen?  The answer, for most they did not listen.

Herein lies the problem with why I sometimes fail to understand what God is saying.  I have a listening problem.  I have those moments when I am preoccupied with things that do not satisfy.  I find myself not being able to fully listen because I am thinking about my schedule for the day. I am thinking about all I have to get done.  I am thinking about my problems.  I am really trying to figure out things myself.

But all the time the Lord is saying, “Keith, listen to me.”

This morning I have been greatly challenged to lay everything at His feet. I have been convicted to resist the things that have no lasting value.  I have called out to God, help me to listen better every day.

Remember the lyrics of this old hymn.  They speak to the joy of listening:

In the Garden
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

The Art of Listening (James 1)

February 19, 2018

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;  James 1:19

Question: “Are you a good listener?”  This is a tough question to answer because we are so busy with doing that we sometimes fail to listen.  I wonder, was Jesus brother James a good listener?  I believe James 1:19 would suggest that at least he knew that it was so important to listen.

There are three words that help us to always be good listeners. I call this the paint and paintbrushes on the canvass of our faith walk:

  • Alert
  • Attention
  • Alignmenr

In James one there are four subjects addressed by James in which we are challenged to listen.  We are to listen God’s teaching concerning trials, Vs:1-8, Treasure, Vs: 9-11, Temptations, Vs: 12-18; and Truth in Vs: 19-28.

Lets choose one for our blog this day:  Temptations:

God calls us to be alert concerning the trials and temptations that come our way.  Trials are from God and temptations are from Satan.  God calls us to be attentive to what is happening. If we walk in faith we will be rewarded.  It we walk in sin we will suffer spiritual loss.  God calls us to align ourselves with God by walking in faith as we consider the good things God gives us.

When we fail to listen to God’s Word we are not alert to what is happening and we find our attention is being drawn by the things of the world.  Suddenly we have aligned with what we never thought we would do.  Death has come in this moment.  The way back is through repentance.

But there was a better way.  Discipline yourself to be alert, to be attentive, and to align with what you hear from God.  This why James emphatically writes:

21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Brothers and sisters, when you and I develop the art of listening we become people whose lives are the canvas through which God paints a glorious picture of His kingdom life.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

A solid and sure foundation (Hebrews 6; 10:26-29)

February 16, 2018

 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,  Hebrews 6:19

Have you asked, “Is so and so really a Christ-follower?”  Have you ever wondered if you are a genuine Christ follower?

To be boldly transparent, there are days when most believers will question their genuine salvation.  When do those days come?  Usually when you are extremely weary in life or you have extremely blew it in your faith.

The writer of Hebrews writes to encourage believers who from time to time find themselves in this place.  Maybe you are in this place today.  If so, find encouragement from this fact:  “Salvation is a gift from God that is guaranteed by the God who guards our faith with the assurance that it will be given to you at the end.”  This is the solid and sure foundation of Hebrews 6:19.

However, there is a warning here.  There are some believers who are not really believers, 6:4-9.  Such people are actually false believers.  Yes these people are enlightened, they have tasted, they have shared and they have participated in faith.  But only as observers not as people who have obeyed the gospel.

They know about Jesus (enlightened) but do not know Jesus.  They have sampled (tasted) the faith but never have they surrendered to the faith.  They have shared in our faith (in the crowds) but never sold-out to faith.  They have felt the power of the Word but never have they fell in love with the person of the Word.

Hebrews 10:26-29 teaches that they will experience the fires of hell.  However, this will never be with us. We have a sure and steadfast hope in Jesus Christ.

Today, I do not wonder if I am saved, even if I blow life terribly.  I know my life is secure in Him.  But I still each day strive to mature and I strive to renounce sin and rejoice in His righteousness.  May these words bring assurance to your life.

Ms. Crosby said it better than I:

  1. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
    Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
    His child and forever I am.

    • Refrain:
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      His child and forever I am.
  2. Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
    No language my rapture can tell;
    I know that the light of His presence
    With me doth continually dwell.
  3. I think of my blessed Redeemer,
    I think of Him all the day long:
    I sing, for I cannot be silent;
    His love is the theme of my song.
  4. I know I shall see in His beauty
    The King in whose law I delight;
    Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
    And giveth me songs in the night.
  5. I know there’s a crown that is waiting
    In yonder bright mansion for me,
    And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
    At home with the Lord I shall be.

The Truth Will Come Out (Acts 8)

February 15, 2018

23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”  Acts 8:23

The church was in its beginning days of gospel formation.  Jerusalem had been successfully saturated with the gospel.  Now it was time for the church to launch out into the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Lord used the persecution against the church to direct her to move out.  Phillip was one of those who moved out.  He went down to Samaria.  Jesus had visited this city (John 4) during His earthly ministry.  As Phillip comes, he shares the gospel.  Suddenly a city filled with division, darkness, and demonic work is filled with joy because the gospel has come to town.

Many people (Vs:12) believe in Jesus Christ.  Even one Simon the sorcerer makes a profession of faith.  He is baptized.  He, with great amazement follows the ministry of Phillip.

This is amazing.  Here is a guy who was considered by the people in Samaria to be a God because of the magic he performed.  But now, even he was following the gospel, or was he?

Brothers and sisters, the truth about this man was about to come out.  The late R.C. Sproul writes: “A profession of faith without repentance is invalid.” Cited from Pg. 1573 “The Reformation Study Bible.”

Peter confronts Simon for being a deceptive man who simply was looking for more magical powers in order to be their false God. Sin was still ruling his life.

According to Hebrews 4:15 such people as Simon cause distraction, deception, and division in every group they are apart of.  Such people are in every congregation of believers.  One must be careful to pray for such people.  One must be centered in the power of the Holy Spirit to both withstand and witness to such people.

This morning I am compelled to pray for the Simon’s of the church world.  Maybe you are facing an onslaught by a Simon?  If so, take heart, the truth will come out.  God will be glorified.